Expressive therapies such as art, sand and play therapies are alternatives to traditional talk therapy. Each of these types of therapy enables clients to gain deeper self-understanding by creating an object or scene that reflects their inner and interpersonal worlds. Working with one’s hands and body allows access to feelings that words sometimes cannot reach. Through the freedom experienced in expressive therapies, clients learn more about themselves and grow in emotionally healthy ways.
Art therapy uses paints, crayons, glue, paper, clay, and other materials to make a picture or object that illustrates the client’s feelings and experiences. It is the process of forming the art that serves as an outlet for communicating these feelings.
Sand tray therapy
Sand tray therapy involves placing miniature people or animal figures and objects in sand-filled tray to create a scene or story. Working with the objects and figures enables clients to have a sense of freedom and control. Healing takes place as the client’s inner world and life experiences become visible in the tray and begin to make sense to them. The therapist uses guided questions to facilitate understanding.
Play is the first way children learn to express their feelings, thoughts, experiences and understanding of the world around them, even before they learn to communicate through language. In play therapy, children select toys to play with, while the therapist observes, asks questions, and joins the play. Parents may also be asked to participate. Just as adults tend to vent and “talk out” their problems, children use play to express their innermost concerns and feelings.